Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley should be investigated and “immediately relieved of his duties and court-martialed” if he secretly negotiated with his Chinese counterpart.
“It should be investigated immediately, today, he should be questioned under oath, if not with a polygraph test, whether it happened. If it happened, he should be immediately relieved of his duties and court-martialed,” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
“You have to find out if it’s true,” Paul said. “This is innuendo and rumor and propaganda, perhaps. But, if it is true, he absolutely immediately needs to be removed.”
A new book, “Peril,” by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, says Milley phoned his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, on Oct. 30 — just prior to the general election — to warn him that then-President Donald Trump might create a military conflict with the communist nation.
The authors allege a second phone call was made on Jan. 8 — just two days after the incursion of the Capitol — in which Milley assured Li the United States would not attack China.
“Gen. Li, you and I have known each other for five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley said, as reported in the excerpt.
The senator was extremely critical of Milley’s alleged actions.
“And he needs to be asked, did you call the Chinese government in defiance to your commands? Did you warn them or insinuate to them that the president might attack them? That’s incredibly dangerous to the country, to the world and, if true, treasonous,” Paul said.
Should Milley be court-martialed if he made the China calls as described?
Milley’s reported actions could end up triggering a war, he noted.
“If we have a general calling China and saying, ‘Our president is liable to unleash nuclear weapons on you or unleash an attack on you,’ that makes any kind of accidental war even more likely by him ginning up the game. It’s a terrible thing, very dangerous, but just by defying the chain of command it gets outside of what we have as a constitutional republic,” Paul said.
Those phone calls, per the book, were never mentioned to Trump, whose mental state, Milley believed, had declined in the aftermath of the presidential election.
Hence the need, in Milley’s view, to prevent the president from taking military action.
Toward that end, the book says Milley made a phone call to the admiral in charge of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to suggest postponing any additional military exercises in the region.
He also requested senior officers swear an “oath” — again, per the book — that his involvement be required should Trump give an order to launch nuclear weapons during his final days in office.
For his part, Milley — already under fire for last month’s hasty and deadly U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan — has denied any claims his actions undermined civilian control of the military.
“General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution,” Army Col. David Butler, Milley’s spokesman, said in a Wednesday statement reported in the Military Times.